Joseph Reiben (CEO of Mandala Exchange), Mr Adult (Global Community Manager), CatsRus (SafeMoon Senior Scholar and Head of SafeMoon.Education),
and Gandalf (SafeMoon Scholar)
Table of Contents:
About Joe Reiben
Joe is the CEO of Mandala Exchange as well as a regulatory and compliance attorney who has been in the crypto space since 2015. He added that he “makes sure projects have a fair shake against regulatory bodies.”
He also sits on more than one state’s Blockchain Association for the U.S.
Joe became the CEO of Mandala in 2020, which is a Binance Cloud White Label Partner.
Mandala Exchange Q&A
What is the Binance Cloud and how does that relate to Binance with Mandala?
Binance Cloud is an arm of the Binance companies. There are multiple companies within Binance that perform multiple functions for the Binance umbrella. Binance Cloud is their developer and development services for exchanges.
Mandala is one of a few exchanges that launched on the Binance Cloud. They were the first to do so in December 2020 and are still the only privately-held exchange that’s not at least partially owned or operated by Binance in some way. This allows Mandala to bring a safe, secure and fun trading environment for their users. Mandala has Binance’s SAFU Policy which is their security policy and infrastructure, their liquidity, order book depth, number of pairs, as well as their world-class trading engine. This partnership has really allowed Mandala to expand and reach a global audience.
Where can people see Mandala’s true volume?
Mandala’s API development isn’t fully separated from Binance at this point so it is reporting a combined volume, but typically they do between $10-15M in volume a day (more or less, depending on the day). In Mandala’s first year, they did about $2.3-2.4B in volume. The exchange puts out monthly markers from their creatives and marketing team to allow their community to know exactly where their volume is for the month and how the user base and social interaction has increased. The Mandala Discord is a great place to find this information on a monthly basis.
A lot of the SafeMoon Army is US-based. Is there any information relating to the current position of when Mandala Exchange will be available in the US?
The Mandala team is currently working through this with some third-party providers as well as sourcing out with Binance to see if they can do it through them as well to develop the US exchange. There are some regulatory hoops for them to jump through. Joe’s background as an attorney based in Denver, Colorado gives him a lot of insight on the regulation process. They are looking to do at least something on a limited basis in the US this year, however currently the US is geofenced out from the international exchange.
Mandala is an independently owned and operated exchange; we are a US parent company out of Wyoming with an exchange house in the Seychelles in Africa. Seychelles runs parallel to EU laws and EU structure, which was why the Mandala team chose it. They have already applied for US regulatory licenses but “there are a lot of moving parts that need sorted out.” An example of this is that money transmitter licenses have to be applied to state-by-state. The team is in the process of this right now and they are filing new documents every week for the money transmitter licenses. As well as those, there need to be tech build-outs, integrations, and licenses that need to be received and granted.
Can US-based customers still use the exchange for swapping and transferring?
Unfortunately the US is currently geofenced out, however, “there is a reason [the Mandala team] is working on [their] DeFi side this year.” They want to be able to bring more options to the user bases. They are also looking for other options while waiting for the exchange build-out in the US.
Is the team working to achieve compliance in difficult states such as New York and Texas?
Mandala is always trying to work to achieve those states. Because of Joe’s seat on the Blockchain Associate for the U.S., he is able to keep close tabs on the regulatory environment on a monthly basis. These meetings also help shape the states’ laws in the U.S. Mr. Reiben stated, “I push hard on those two states’ representatives to try and make it more blockchain-friendly and user-friendly for their constituents.”
Why did you choose Denver, CO as your headquarters?
“There were a couple of things. First of all, four of our original five board members, now three out of four, are from Denver and we’ve all known each other in the crypto community for years and years. When I started they were already in the crypto community in 2015. Our CTO Zach had been helping build projects since the early 2010s, at the dawn of crypto, really. And my dad’s a CFO, which is cool. He’s 72 and he likes to go to conferences and say he’s the oldest G in crypto and it’s a lot of fun to have your dad and work with your dad. He’s also a great business attorney and helps out with the legal work as well. We picked Denver because the laws are very favorable but we did headquarter in Wyoming [as our company base] because the laws are even more favorable. As we know, Wyoming is a very crypto-friendly state, but Denver was really the choice for the headquarters because of the proximity of the board members.
I also sit on the blockchain council for Colorado and we have a lot of ins with Governor Polis. We did the Denver Blockchain Day in 2018 when we wrote the legislation there. There are just a lot of tie-ins that made sense [for] Denver as our physical headquarters while picking Wyoming as our company base.”
With the recent events of hacking and stealing of funds across all of crypto, what does Mandala do to try and stay ahead of security to prevent [what] has happened within the crypto space?
“That’s one of the things that we’re really happy about [in regards to] partnering with Binance Cloud is that we do work under the Binance insurance and security infrastructure. Funds are SAFU. If you’ve seen Binance proper, the BinanceExchange.com, has not been hacked in a while in terms of a large hack. Now the decentralized part [has] had rugpulls and things like that but on the DeFi side that’ll happen regardless of chain that you’re on unfortunately because companies have to be properly vetted.
One of the things that we do is work with the Binance security infrastructure to make sure our wallets are as secure as possible. As we know, nothing is 100% ever but we do try to stay ahead of it, we try to implement security upgrades, and stress test the system in the background constantly to make sure that there are no vulnerabilities.”
How are tokenomics going to work on the Mandala platform?
There have been some hints at full tokenomics [being implemented]. Joe said “ I don’t want to ruin everything for my marketing team but we are a global exchange and hopefully that kind of clues you into what we’re working toward. We have a global user base and… hopefully that gives you enough hints. Let’s put it that way.”
What’s the whole connection like between SafeMoon and Mandala?
Mandala’s Head of Marketing Donnie said the other day that SafeMoon is not just another listing for them. It’s not seen as a short term relationship. Mandala’s team has met with SafeMoon’s team at different conferences and they want to build this as a very symbiotic relationship where the Mandala and SafeMoon user bases work together. This is trying to be built out in many different areas such as with their marketing teams, development teams, wallet testing, and trading pair testing (which should be finished up very very soon and ready to launch). Other collaboration opportunities are being explored but they can’t be disclosed just yet because they are under NDA.
Does being listed on Mandala automatically equate to a listing on Binance?
“This goes back to what we talked about before [with] building on the Binance Cloud infrastructure. What you will see with our wallets going live and wallets testing is that they are Binance wallets, they’re built with the dot com developers because they have to have the same security settings and internal infrastructure. That does not mean, however, that it is imminent to be listed on Binance. The relationship between Binance is really that of a service provider by Binance providing us these services and the wallet, infrastructure, liquidity, order books, [etc.] The partnership is within that sphere. There are no listing criteria for both. It doesn’t mean what’s going to happen automatically on the other one. We do have our own exclusive listings.”
Will Mandala also be listing some of the SafeMoon token partners?
“I can’t talk about that yet but I wouldn’t rule that out of the realm of possibility. Like I said, this isn’t just another listing for us. We’re exploring a more long term and lasting partnership. Our aim [isn’t] just to bring you guys onto the exchange, bring you some fun competitions and then call it a day. We want this to develop outward for both sides. I’ll just leave it at that.”
What is SafeMoon SpinOff?
SafeMoon SpinOff is a fun competition that Mandala is bringing to the table. There are several ways to enter, so check out Mandala’s Discord. Their marketing and creative team have put together a really nice set of criteria for the competition. What it is is a bifurcated (or two-level) volume trading competition that rewards the SafeMoon users for coming and trading on the Mandala Exchange, participating with Mandala’s community, etc.
You can get some MDX tokens as well as bring SafeMoon tokens onto the exchange and “lock up” competition. The Mandala token has a unique locking mechanism where if someone purchases at least 1,000 tokens they can choose to lock those tokens on the exchange for a 30-day period. This allows you to participate in the Mandala Madness competition, which is Mandala’s side of the volume competition, as well! .015% of all of the volume will be given back each month as well as bonuses for the community. Users who trade on the exchange will be rewarded with some of that volume going back to them.
There is also a deposit competition that Mandala will be doing where, on the first level, the first 1,000 depositors get extra entries into the competition. We can expect a countdown from Mandala’s marketing team in the near future!
Whose volume are you referring to with the .015%? Is it your whole exchange or just SafeMoon’s volume?
It’s SafeMoon-specific for the SafeMoon pair and the Mandala Madness is specific to the Mandala pair. Participants do get entered into both competitions if they join the SafeMoon SpinOff, so people can get extra entries which means extra chances to win.
Could we see the Mandala token (MDX) on the SafeMoon Swap?
“Anything’s possible. [There are] things I don’t want to talk about yet but anything is possible. We are an ERC-20 utility token and we are also in the process of building out a BSC side for our DeFi ecosystem.”
Because the SafeMoon Army can be so impatient and want everything now, can you explain how difficult is it to implement tokenomics onto the exchange?
“I appreciate that [question] because that’s all of crypto, right? I’ve been doing [the] legal end [of this] since 2015 and everyone wants everything yesterday all the time. To implement a unique contract that has reflection tokenomics such as SafeMoon and to go through testing of different wallets and making sure withdrawals and deposits work, making sure the wallet infrastructure is working properly, [etc…,] There’s a lot of work that gets done on that side. It’s not your typical slap a wallet together, throw an ERC-20 in there without this kind of tokenomics and just let it go. Even that, we require the highest level of testing because we want our community to be safe, we want the wallets to be secure, and we [obviously] don’t want any problems once we start, especially with a large community such as SafeMoon. We don’t want tens of thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of users to come on and all of a sudden there’ll be an error.
That’s our nightmare scenario, so we test these things and stress test and go over and over and over until we’re satisfied that everything works and that’s when we release the token pair in stages. It’s one of those things that there’s no set answer to because tokenomics can be difficult. It’s obviously more difficult to implement [something like SafeMoon] than a normal token. It is a process and a lot of work with the SafeMoon team and Mandala team, as well as the Binance Cloud dev team, to make sure that everything functions smoothly.”
Wen SafeMoon on Mandala?
Joe says to keep our eyes open. “It’s not going to be very long [at all], I promise that.”
What was your first impression of the SafeMoon community? How did you first hear about SafeMoon?
“I've held a bag of SafeMoon for a while. I’ve known about you for a long time and about the community, I love the community. [Your] social interaction is amazing. Thank you guys, I was sitting at 800 followers the other day on Twitter and you guys pumped me up to almost 5k and I totally appreciate that and I love the engagement that you guys bring to our community as well so thank you, thank you, thank you. To see you guys so vibrant, so engaging, so integrated with good questions and being intuitive to how you research things, it’s been nothing but a really fun experience for me. I know [it has] for our team as well.”
Do you think what SafeMoon is doing now with vetting the tokens and only listing tokens that meet certain criteria is the way forward?
“Yes, it’s very important. It comes down to a couple of different things that I actually struggle with on a daily basis having been a regulatory compliance attorney and working with the CEO of an exchange; I want to see proper and strategic smart regulation, not over-regulation. I think vetting tokens properly, vetting communities properly, and making sure you don’t list rugpulls or dump-and-dump tokens is part of that process.
What SafeMoon is doing and what we do, what exchanges really should do, is not be all-inclusive but be strategically-inclusive in terms of proper projects with proper teams that are doxxed and tokenomics. Rugpulls were a huge problem with the DeFi sector in the last year so [by vetting] the chances of that go way down. It’s something that I’m very passionate about and it’s a very tough push and pull for me but I want to make sure this asset class gets mainstream adoption and that’s the way forward.”
Should we expect the full realization of the Mandala-SafeMoon partnership by the end of Q1?
“For our exchange, absolutely. The other parts of it we are working on, they are in progress but I can’t put a timeframe on them quite yet. We’re looking to do a few different stages of build-outs to really solidify this partnership and integrate on a few different levels. That’s our end goal. Will we be all done by the end of Q1? Probably not, because we’re halfway through February already but I do think that there are going to be pieces of it that will be done way before then.”
General Crypto Q&A
As a professional attorney, what are your opinions on the recent attempts from legislatures to control or impact crypto as a whole?
“That’s a good question that hits home for me. Like I said, I do sit on a couple of legislative advisory boards and I’m also working on some pending legislation on the federal-level as well as [in] the state of Minnesota. I do think that there’s a lot of pushback from the more staunch defenders of the dollar, so to [speak], and the establishment, to kind of keep the regulatory landscape under close wraps and really try to control this asset class that shouldn’t be controllable and really isn’t controllable.
We see mass adoption everywhere. There are countries - Paraguay is going to go to Bitcoin, Russia just legalized Bitcoin as currency, El Salvador, Ukraine is working on it, and there are other examples. We’re seeing this happen on a worldwide scale where everything is loosening and everything’s being accepted but we see the US pushing back for some reason with stuff like the infrastructure bill that’s trying to call everybody and their mother a crypto broker which makes no sense.
We’re trying to work on [this] and what we’re seeing is a push from the states in the US to help innovation and companies that are crypto and blockchain-friendly or developing crypto and blockchain products as well as a constituent in those states. It’s this push and pull where it really is states versus feds right now to a degree. There are some bills being introduced in federal legislature this year that hopefully will lighten that quite a bit and lighten the restraints but right now you’re definitely seeing a butting of heads on the state and federal level.”
Do you see the format of tokenomics and crypto with rewards as a new era and new level of crypto going forward that’s going to bring on the mainstream and encourage more people to invest into crypto?
“Short answer, absolutely! I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff and giveaways and competitions and a chance to compete with other community members, right? Competition drives innovation in every industry, it always has. I think that tokenomics that give back or have initiatives tied to them - I hadn’t dropped this for you guys yet but we’re going to be having a special part of our competition with the SafeMoon Army that will involve a green initiative incentive. We haven’t dropped those details yet but those are to come. I think it’s very important that you do things that really benefit not only your community but the global crypto community at large. I think that will obviously in turn [push] mainstream adoption. You see it already with other exchanges and with other companies buying huge advertising spaces or licensing agreements in major sports arenas or whatever it may be. We’re seeing that happen and we’re seeing the gamification of crypto really help drive this new level of Gen Z investor.
We have to make sure that the leaders of this asset class don’t get greedy like the old financial system. We do have to give back. It’s our duty to educate new people coming in and it’s everybody’s duty to educate and inform new token holders and traders coming into this asset class so they don’t lose all of their money and get dissuaded from coming back, trading again and enjoying all that this asset class has to offer.”
Joe speaking on the crypto community and expectations:
“With the fast pace of crypto, sometimes things get delayed for tech reasons. You have to remember, we’re still working with very sophisticated tech. Every implementation we do, it’s not just a plug-and-play. People are expecting this lightning fast pace of everything in the crypto community [but] things still have to be properly built and tested. That’s something we’re passionate about. We’ll take a couple more days to do something just to make sure it’s properly built and to make sure there won’t be problems down the road. We look at these things in terms of days and a couple weeks when before, maybe five years ago, these things couldn’t be built in a year. [Even though] tech is getting better, you still have to take the personnel and integrate it and properly test it and make sure it’s done right the first time.“
Exchanges like SafeMoon that are doing all of the regulation first, do you see a niche in the market for them as far as if the SEC tries to pass any legislation or regulations against the cryptocurrency field so that they will have the majority of the regulatory problems taken care of? It seems like the SafeMoon team is only pushing towards regulation before they launch anything and it sounds like the Mandala Exchange is really pushing towards that as well. Where do you see the future for the couple of exchanges that are pushing towards that regulation versus some other ones that just push out where they want and what they want?
“The answer to that is yes, absolutely, 100%. Make sure you’re regulated first in your home jurisdiction as well as for us we’re a global exchange so globally we’re complying with EU laws, EU regulation, as well as Asian regulation. That is key and if you do it right - I’m coming from a regulatory compliance attorney background in this industry, so it’s kind of a unique perspective to have the privilege of running this exchange as well, but I do bring a lot of that into the decision-making that we make as a team.
You’re going to get into a lot of trouble and run into a lot of roadblocks down the road if you just do whatever you want willy-nilly. Someone will eventually ask you what your regulatory schema is, what your regulatory stance is, and ask you for documentation [showing] that you're complying with what’s current or at least making a good faith effort to comply with it. That’s key and I think SafeMoon is doing it exactly right and I think regulation first, in terms of complying with whatever you need to comply with, is paramount.“
Why do you love doing what you do?
“That’s an awesome question. Why do I love doing what I do? I love when I get asked this because it’s morphed so many times. I started trading in this industry like eight years ago [and] I started the legal end of it almost seven years ago which is crazy. I like seeing projects succeed. I like seeing individuals that are entrepreneurial, that have a dream and have a good idea, and really work their butts off 12-14 hours minimum a day like we all do. We all know we do. I like to see them succeed and I like to help that and propel that however I can. That’s what I love in the industry. When I see a project and a great idea come to realization and seeing you guys as a community is a perfect example. Get behind that project, get behind [and interact with] the team, and just the absolute care that the team puts forward to your community, just like our team does our community on a daily basis. That makes me feel good. That’s why I do it, and also to give back. At the end of the day I have a lot of goals, personal as well as company goals, to build schools for coding, music, I’m also a professional, classically-trained pianist and bassist and I play with orchestras and things like that. I want to teach others how to play music, how to code and use that math and logic side of their brain, help underprivileged communities where maybe they can’t afford to go to college but they can get a coding job somewhere or they can learn to be a musician or learn to make NFTs or something - just develop as human beings and as young professionals. That’s what I love, that’s what I want to do eventually, and that’s what’s important to me in this industry.
Of course I want to see this as a mass adoption asset class as well but that’s my drive, it’s to really give back at the end of the day.”
Closing Thoughts from Mr. Adult and CatsRus
Mr. Adult: A lot of what is built doesn’t always show up on the front-end straight away because you’re building. This means there aren’t always massive eventful things to drop but that doesn’t mean progress isn’t happening and if you look closely enough you might see some more of it. When the website updates happened about two weeks ago, people noticed some new texts and images but I haven’t seen anyone yet notice that the entire site has been rebuilt. It’s been rebuilt on a technology called React Native. It looks like nothing has changed but actually but that’s a huge fundamental difference of our tech stack as we now deeply integrate the front end things that you will all be able to interact with with the backend things that power them and will kind of build out that ecosystem. So not everything looks like some giant change. We’re all looking for the new car with the new paint, right? It’s always ‘what’s the flashy, big, exciting thing?’ and the fact that we get to maybe get a hint of these every so often is great.
Just today we dropped a massive wallet update with NFT support. The amount of work that goes on on the behind-the-scenes stuff to make that happen is important and the things that have been put in place are actually features which aren’t delivered yet. It’s all these, sometimes they’re called stubs or they’re nodes but, they’re basically different technology inputs and outputs which will bring the vision that’s coming for SafeMoon, but we’ll have to start with these more familiar things and I think familiarity can sometimes make people a bit complacent because because it’s not the most amazing thing, right? You think about when the first iPhone was dropped and it was mind-blowing to people and now people just kind of expect an iPhone update every year.
But then the iPad as well, right? They hadn’t done tablets before but Microsoft and people have been trying to do it for ages, and actually Apple kind of did one a long, long, long time ago with kind of a weird black and white display but, the point was, they waited until that product was right and then they built an ecosystem around that. When you think about it, Apple never used to sell music or apps. Remember ‘There’s an app for that,’ right? There was a huge campaign but [although] there were apps for mobile phones but not in that way before.
I’m not suggesting Apple’s the best company, I mean, Google does plenty of stuff, there are different platforms, but we’ve been in situations where Blockbuster was the best. Nokia was the best, Blackberry. There are tons of situations where being first to market doesn’t mean best to market. We’re really trying to not just be to a market but we’re looking to create a market. We’re looking to build the company and what it does in a different way. We’re looking to build the products and what they do in a different way and, rather than just build the products, we’re also building the methods.
And that takes longer and it’s frustrating at times because we’ve got a vision that we want everyone to be part of and we have to just be a bit more careful about when we show that vision these days because otherwise we just get lots of Wens and ‘Why not all this?’ and the rest of it. We all know that an hour of crypto is like a century, right? We’re here every day, we’re all on Discord and it feels like an eternity.
I guess if I was going to give anything else it’s just that we’ve got our first birthday coming up in March [so] we’re planning some things for that, but we’ve also got the whole of the year ahead of us. We’ve got Mandala, we’ve got the card which was announced, we’ve got lots of things and I think the more we have those deliveries appear, people are always going to be impatient for the next thing. They get familiar with it and then they want the next thing but, as we get more of that ecosystem out into the wild, it makes it easier I think for all of us to be busy enjoying it rather than be waiting for it. So I totally understand the impatience of some, but I don’t understand how they represent that impatience in certain cases. It’s okay to be impatient but be respectful and that’s also about being kind to yourself, not just kind to others.
I’m really excited for what’s ahead of us. I know there are new site features that are going to be deploying in the coming weeks and there’s other stuff going on in the background and it’s [about] cooking the best cake, not just a cake.
Cats: There’s one statistic that I’ve just been given and it kind of plays into something that was said in the SafeMoon Sunday. We had 100 million requests [on the website.] If we compare that to Apple.com, they have on average 2.5 million daily users. That’s just on average, that’s not taking into [account] the sales and stuff that they do, but that would put them [at] around 75 to 100 million requests a month. We did that. In terms of statistics, we are on par in terms of website traffic with Apple… which is mental when you think about that sort of thing. I know Apple also has multiple different languages and some different domains but this [statistic] is just referring to Apple.com. That was 2.5 million daily and ours would be about 3.3 [million].
That’s quite scary to see the level of request that we’re getting just on the website alone and as we continue to grow it’s only going to get bigger from here. The team is going to [keep delivering] the products and it’s going to be an exciting time. We’ve seen the partnership and what will happen with Mandala [and while] we don’t know everything, there’s a lot that Joe has said today that gives us insight to what’s happening. It’s more than just a partnership, it’s more than just listing a token, it’s about building that relationship further. I’m excited to see where it goes and only time will tell. Mr. Adult: It’s good to mention that traffic thing because that ties into what I was just talking about. I can’t find the article but there’s one from probably four or five years ago and it was about IKEA. What they did was they reduced the size of their most famous bookcase, the one that most people have [their] records on or in the background of streams. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s their most famous one. What they did is remove something like 2 millimeters off of the thickness of all of the different panels that are on there. To the untrained eye [it] doesn’t make any difference but, at scale, the difference that makes - not just in the amount of wood that’s used but the carbon that’s needed to transport them and the amount of space in trucks or containers, at scale that makes a huge difference.
So when we’re talking about the amount of traffic we get to the website, it costs money to serve a website, right? So when you can rebuild a platform off of classic technologies and frameworks and put it onto these more nimble, robust ones that are far more client-side than server-side, that means you get a faster experience but it also means that scalability becomes easier and the robustness is better. So you’re not having the site fall over and you can add features in which people can depend on. It’s all these things that are going on from a tech stack perspective but people don’t see it. It’s not the exciting, shiny thing that they can get ahold of and use, but it does add up to the overall experience. It does change how things work.
And to reference - I sound like a fanboy but that’s not the point but, another Apple example [is] if you’ve used some of their older devices and you’ve swiped the pages of icons (and same for Android actually, both have the same thing) there’s this kind of wobbly delay from when you move your thumb over the screen and the things kind of follow it along. What’s happened with each iteration is it’s gotten more and more responsive until it’s completely attached to the thumb and they’ve got amazing keynotes where they talk about the cancellation of movements as well, so if you undo a movement or you swipe back it should all be attached and intuitive, but the speed is so important. So if you get one of these new 120Hz screens and you test the scrolling, some people don’t necessarily notice the difference but if they go back to another model they do.
These imperceptible changes are actually often adding up and we have similar things going on. Think about the API timeouts we had when the wallet first came out and how much it’s improving as we move forward and how little we’re having to talk about that. That’s because of all those improvements and they’re crucial to building a product that’s scalable and sustainable as we move forward. So yeah, not everything is a shiny bell and whistle, but it adds up to a platform that lets us build amazing shiny bells and whistles as we go forward.